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It’s time to think a little differently

May 22, 2018

Jamil Qureshi is a highly acclaimed psychologist and performance coach working for sports and business teams worldwide. He was on a return visit to FIDI.  In Dubai he had looked at making relatively small changes in your business and learning to think differently.  In San Diego he continued with a similar theme focussing on what he called the six C’s of highly effective teamworking: communication, coordination, cooperation, cognition, conflict resolution and coaching. 

I remember saying last time that I thoroughly enjoyed Jamil’s presentation but found it harder to understand exactly what he wanted us to do differently and what effect he thought it would have. This time I felt the same. He said that success comes not just from individual performance but from the connectivity between team members.  He used the example of an Olympic 4 x 4 relay team that can perform much better than any individual, as long as they get the ‘handover’ right. 

Jamil said that it wasn’t so much cooperation that was important but the willingness to cooperate.  People needed to know that they were better when working together: working on a mission, not just having a mission statement. 

Many conflicts, Jamil said, could be resolved by asking "Why?" five times.  He said that it enabled you to peal away the layers to establish what really motivates people.  If someone asks for more money, for example, if you find out what they want to do with the money you might be able to make it easier for them to achieve it, without paying them more.    

Jamil asked what would you do if the rules changed? If you could no longer charge for your services, how would you make a living.  Or if your prices went up by three times, how would you justify what you do? If a super-competitor started in business on your door step, what would they look like? How could your company give worse service?  This last one, in particular, was a route to creative thinking and it let people have fun.  “It’s called reversing the problem,” he said.  He also suggested asking new starters, within 21 days of their appointment, to be asked what astonishes them about the company, good or bad. Leave it longer and the new person becomes part of the establishment and is no longer astonished.    

It was necessary to fully understand the capabilities of a resource. He suggested asking people what skills they have that they don’t use at work. Perhaps those skills could be used in some way.  People should be encouraged to coach each other and to tell each other what they do really well.  “You need to create an environment in which people can fail without being branded a failure,” he said. Communication, he said, should be simple. 

In closing, Jamil said that 40% of everything we do is done by habit alone.  “We don’t need to drive dramatic change in our businesses, just create sustainable success by breaking habits and getting people into better habits,” he said, “and working better as a team.” 

Jamil was undoubtedly entertaining, amusing and his delivery was very sharp.  I did, however, feel that his presentation would have been much easier to understand if he had been able to provide some relevant, industry-related examples that people could have taken back to their offices to work on. But, the problem is, as soon as you do that, people will find reasons why that specific example doesn’t apply to them.  They get wrapped up in the details rather than the general principles and completely miss the point.  It’s tough being a motivational speaker.   

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